By Marilyn Zuckerman
Walter O’Malley, who has not yet robbed us of Ebbett’s Field,
saves the best seats in the stadium for us
and we go there nights or weekend afternoons
the way some families go to church,
sitting just behind the Dodger dugout
watching Leo Durocher drill a hole through an umpire’s chest
with his forefinger and scream obscenities
my father would not stand for from anyone else
while Dolf Camilli spits. Pee Wee Reese and Pete Reiser,
skinny as bat boys, practice hitting fungoes into the outfield.
The lights enclose us in a scene sacred as the one in the crèche.
Hilda, the famous fan shouting, “Aw, ya bums,” christens
them while the organ plays a raspberry every time the other
team takes the field. My mother, eyes closed, leans out of the
box, hands cupped trying to beat Babe Phelps to the pop fly.
He shouts, “Lady are you crazy – or what?”
and calls her a bad name.
Some afternoons, dawdling home from riding
in Prospect Park or from the Albemarle Theatre
on Flatbush Avenue, I’ll stop at every service station, listening
for Red Barber’s excited drawl, needing to know the score,
waiting for Cookie Lavagetto to lift one out of the park.
If they win I’ll get a telephone call from Frank
or the letter I’m waiting for. If they lose,
then sure as rain I’ll flunk chemistry,
have no date New Year’s Eve and start a pimple.
· · ·
This poem is an homage to the Boston Red Sox who have finally won the World Series on their own home turf. Although the poem takes place at Ebbett’s Field in 1939 it also represents an expression of the joy baseball often brings into the life of a family.
In general, ours was not close. For one thing, my father had been shell-shocked and gassed in WW1 and our home was not comfortable. But the Dodgers brought us together through our mutual passion for them.
Whether we were sitting around the radio (my grandmother crying out …“and he swings the misses!” instead of… “he swings and misses,”) or behind the Dodger dugout, we were united in our fervor and felt it our duty as fans to help cheer them on to victory.
I think the poem says it all and explains why I was able to switch my passion to the Red Sox, whose fans, The Red Sox Nation, were as fervent as the Dodger crowd, and the players as beloved. And that they, like the Dodgers would bring us such joy in dark times.
Poem from my book, Poems of the Sixth Decade, Garden Street Press, Cambridge, MA.